Food technology on the school curriculum in England: Is it a curriculum for the twenty-first century?


In England, food technology is part of the curriculum for design and technology but the purpose of food technology education is not clear. Over the years, food on the school curriculum has generally been seen as a practical, learning to cook, activity initially for girls to prepare them for domestic employment or housewifery. As society has developed many aspects of design and technology teaching have also developed, to include teaching about new materials, new equipment and new processes but we argue that food technology has developed less slowly than other areas of design and technology. We question whether the current food technology curriculum provides an appropriate education for pupils in the twenty-first century. The research involved interviews with stakeholders to develop a conceptual framework for a modern food curriculum. School schemes of work and examination specifications were then analysed against this conceptual framework, and teachers and pupils were surveyed about their experiences of teaching and learning in food technology. The findings indicate that the main purpose of food technology on the school curriculum is still linked to developing pupils’ practical food-making skills as a ‘life skill’, although one which is now available to boys and girls. We suggest that food technology education should serve a different and more sophisticated purpose in the twenty-first century; it could help pupils to develop their understanding of the underlying scientific principles, broaden their general knowledge of food-related issues and better prepare them for citizenship and employment.

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Correspondence to Gwyneth Owen-Jackson.

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Rutland, M., Owen-Jackson, G. Food technology on the school curriculum in England: Is it a curriculum for the twenty-first century?. Int J Technol Des Educ 25, 467–482 (2015).

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  • Design and technology
  • Food technology education
  • Conceptual framework
  • Scientific understanding
  • Twenty-first century curriculum
  • Citizenship
  • Employment